ISAF captures IMU facilitator in Wardak province


Map of Afghanistan’s provinces. Click map to view larger image.

Coalition and Afghan special operations teams captured an Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan facilitator in the same district where 38 US and Afghan troops, including SEALs, were killed when their helicopter was shot down in August 2011.

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan facilitator, who has not been named, was captured by a combined special operations team today during a raid in the Sayyidabad district in Wardak province. One “insurgent” was killed and two others were captured in the raid, the International Security Assistance Force stated in a press release.

“The facilitator, along with senior IMU leaders in the area, was planning future large-scale attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in Kabul, Wardak and Logar districts,” ISAF stated.

The captured facilitator is the second operative linked to the IMU that has been targeted in the area in the past four days. On April 23, special operations forces attempted to capture a senior Haqqani Network facilitator during a raid in the Baraki Barak district of neighboring Logar province. The Haqqani facilitator was supporting attacks in and around Kabul and “has ties to the Pakistan-based leaders of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan,” ISAF stated.

Last summer, Sayyidabad was the scene of several high-profile attacks by the Taliban and allied groups. The Taliban have been in control of the Tangi Valley, which runs through Sayyidabad, since the withdrawal of US forces from Combat Outpost Tangi in the spring of 2011. US troops turned over the base to the Afghan Army, which immediately abandoned it. The Taliban later released a videotape that showed hundreds of fighters and senior Taliban leaders massing at the abandoned base and conducting a tour.

The Taliban shot down a US Army Chinook helicopter in Sayyidabad on Aug. 6. Thirty-eight US and Afghan troops, including 17 US Navy SEALS from the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, were killed in the crash.

And on Sept. 10, 2011, the Taliban detonated a massive suicide bomb outside of Combat Outpost Sayyidabad, killing four Afghans and wounding more than 100 people, including 77 US soldiers. US commanders later blamed the attack on the Haqqani Network, a powerful al Qaeda subgroup.

Al Qaeda is also known to maintain a presence in Wardak province. The presence of terror cells has been detected in the districts of Maidan Shah, Sayyidabad, and Tarnek Wa Jaldak, or three of the province’s eight districts. On Nov. 18, 2011, special operations forces killed Mujib Rahman Mayar, an Afghan member of al Qaeda. Mayar “trained insurgents and worked as a courier” for the terror group, ISAF stated after his death. “He delivered messages and transported money for the al Qaeda network.”

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is a key ally of al Qaeda and the Taliban, and supports operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as plots attacks in Europe. The IMU is known to fight alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan and has integrated into the Taliban’s shadow government in the north [for more information on the IMU, see LWJ report, IMU cleric urges Pakistanis to continue sheltering jihadis in Waziristan]. The IMU and the Islamic Jihad Group, an IMU splinter faction, are known to operate in the southeastern Afghan provinces of Khost, Paktia, Paktika, Wardak, Ghazni, and Zabul. Both groups are allied with the Haqqani Network.

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan has been linked to major suicide attacks in and around Kabul in recent years: the May 19, 2010 suicide assault on Bagram Air Base; the October 2011 suicide attack that targeted an armored bus in Kabul; and the October 2011 suicide assault on a Provincial Reconstruction Team base in Panjshir. On April 18 this year, ISAF targeted an IMU leader in Baghlan who “is responsible for multiple attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in northern Afghanistan” and “is also suspected in plotting bombings and suicide attacks in Kabul.”

ISAF has stepped up its targeting of the IMU’s leadership cadre over the past several months. Coalition and Afghan commandos have targeted top IMU leaders and associates in 15 raids in Badakhshan, Baghlan, Faryab, Kunduz, Takhar, Logar, and Wardak provinces since Jan. 29. Nine of those raids took place this month and four occurred in March. During those raids, special operations forces have killed the IMU’s past two commanders for Afghanistan, and killed one senior facilitator and captured two others.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Devin Leonard says:

    These guys can run, but our Spec Ops are the best in the world…they will track everyone of these boys down eventually. IMU/Haqqani/Taliban or Al Qaida, in the end we will kill or capture them all if we are targeting them.

  • mike merlo says:

    Overlooked but most significant is the non Pashtun element of Haqqani Network personnel being swept up in these dragnets.

  • SUN says:

    @mike merlo –
    Those who resist to be bought by money, get “swept up”!
    Apart from jokes, in my opinion, those guys are the masterminds and are silent leaders of Afghani Taliban, so they need to be taken seriously. They used to command, and are commanding, the whole Northern Afghanistan’s Afghan-Uzbek and Afghan-Tajik Taliban. Now it seems they have started leading the Southeast Afghanistan Taliban and Kabul Attack Team, as well.
    IMU is also known for its most vicious attacks with maximum CIVCAS and suicide bombing its targets inside mosques with zero respect to shrines, mosques, or civilians. “Not my country not my kids why do I care,” is possibly what runs in their minds.
    In some occasions, IMU attacks are not necessarily approved by local Taliban, but local Taliban do not have control over them, since possibly funds to local Taliban, follow this path: ISI to AQ, AQ to IMU, IMU to Local Taliban.
    Now NATO has realized that IMU is getting out of control and needs to be eliminated and NATO is doing so. Thank you NATO!

  • mike merlo says:

    Appreciate your input but the position I’m staking out is one I’ve advocated for many years now which is this issue of force composition and has nothing to do with Uzbek field prowess or competence.
    Based on ‘Open Sources,’ of which this site has been a reliable contributor to, the reconstituted Taliban over the last decade has shown itself primarily composed of non Afghans. The Haqqani Network in particular by my estimation has been seriously misdiagnosed in this respect.
    Haqqani popularity in it’s ‘theater’ of operation is desultory at best. This is also self evident in what could be ascribed as it’s ‘core’ turf in Eastern Afghanistan abutting FATA. The Haqqani Network is so far removed, by both space & time, from their point of origin in Afghanistan that much of population now view them as ‘Pakistani’s,’ hence outsiders/interlopers. This phenomena is nothing new among the Pathan tribals. In fact it’s well documented and happens with ‘generational’ frequency.
    Hypothesis have been proposed linking the Haqqani Network to having a larger role withinn the ‘Global Jihad’ simply because parts of the geography controlled by them serve as a way station for foreigners seeking contact with the ‘Global Jihad.’
    Nothing could be further from the truth.
    The Haqqani role in the ‘Global Jihad’ is limited at best if at all. Further aggravating the Haqqani’s Network stability has been that over the horizon animus emanating from the west(Afghanistan), rise of ‘Pakistani’ Taliban, Waziristan tribal dynamics, various positions forwarded & undertaken by the different branches of the Pakistani government, al Qaeda etc., and last but not least accumulating tensions within the Haqqani’s themselves.
    This triangulation has put the Haqqani Network in the unenviable position of having to kill & massacre that which is closest to them to secure their survival. How this translate’s into what Afghanistan is having to deal with shouldn’t be to hard to figure out.

  • Devin Leonard says:

    I know that when I was in Afghanistan the Haqanni boys were on our radar but were seen as more of a mafia type syndicate. They didn’t have the precidence that they now have in terms of us going after them. Although the CIA was supposedly making alot of noise that they should be taken more seriously back then, then they were by military command. Guess the spooks were right.

  • SUN says:

    @ mike merlo again,
    I was talking only about IMU; however, I completely agree with you that HQN is struggling for its survival and can not extend its influence beyond Southeastern Afghanistan. I even can add one other reason in your support. Most of 60 Pashtun tribes are descendents of two historic super-tribes – Ghilzais and Durranis. Duranis come from Southwest, while Ghilzais are mainly in Southeastern Afghanistan and FATA areas of Pakistan. Duranis ruled (and is ruling) Afghanistan for centuries while Ghilzais only wished to. This is why Afghans tolerated Mullah Omar when they had to, but would never tolerate Hekmatyar or Haqqani.

  • mike merlo says:

    @ SUN
    I envision Afghanistan ‘making space’ for Hekmatyar probably for the vary reasons you rule him out (just guessing your mind set). Of the 3 he is by far the weakest therefore the most malleable plus he’s vain as hell. I guess if he winds up dead or survives a publicized assassination attempt ‘we’ can assume that whatever ‘backdoor’ deal(s) he tried to broker ran afoul of those wishing otherwise. That being said based on how Byzantine the politics are over there for all we know he may have orchestrated his own demise.


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